Krister Bykvist: Moral Uncertainty

10 April 2018

Research Seminar, 25 April, 2018, 10.00 - 12.00

Institute for futures Studies

Krister Bykvist

Professor in Practical Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University and Institute for Futures Studies.

ABSTRACT

How important is the wellbeing of non-human animals compared to the wellbeing of humans?
How much should we spend on helping strangers in need?
How much should we value future generations?
Few could honestly say that they are fully certain about the answers to these pressing moral questions. Part of the reason we feel less than fully certain about the answers has to do with our uncertainty about empirical facts. We are uncertain about whether fish can feel pain, whether we can really help strangers far away, and whether people in the far future will have good lives. But sometimes the uncertainty is fundamentally moral. For example, we can be uncertain about whether a bigger future population is better than a smaller one, not because we lack knowledge of the wellbeing of the individuals in these populations, but because we are not sure whether it is better to have more lives that are worth living.

The question of this talk is what we should do when we are morally uncertain.  There is a long history of theorising about decision making under empirical uncertainty, but only very recently have philosophers started to systematically address moral uncertainty and its impact on decision-making. This talk addresses some of the problems raised by moral uncertainty and critically examines some proposed solutions. I will mainly focus on cases where we are uncertain about how to value future generations.

No registration is needed. Welcome to the Institute for Futures Studies, Holländargatan 13 in Stockholm!